Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Trek Belleville: This Is Not A Review

I work at a great little bike shop here in Issaquah called the Bicycle Center. Bicycle Center is a Trek bicycle dealer, so I get to build up, test ride, and work on a whole lot of Trek bikes. We also work on other bikes and over the years I've worked in a range of shops where I've worked on and sold a wide variety of bikes. But I'm certainly not an unbiased reviewer and this is not an unbiased review. Got it? Good!

The Trek Belleville is not a bike for racing around, it's a bike for getting around. The Belleville is a product of Trek's Eco Design effort and I've seen enough behind-the-scenes stuff to know that this isn't just some token corporate green-washing PR thing. For example, when the Bellevilles or any of the other Eco series bikes come into the shop, they are packed not with the industry-standard foam & zip-ties but with string and reusable bags to protect the parts and lots of recycled cardboard. And that's the stuff the customer pretty much never sees. Which, I guess, is why I'm telling you this now. It's a cool facet of these bikes.

By the way, if you need a box to ship a bike somewhere, check your local bike shop. Any shop that deals in new bikes will probably have boxes and packing material they'll be happy to give away. And if your local shop is a Trek dealer, try to get an Eco series box & packing stuff. It's really nice.

The Belleville comes with fenders, racks, chain guard, a kickstand and generator lights. This is not the norm for bikes in the US market, where light weight tends to be a major selling point, shops make money selling accessories and a lot of customers enjoy making choices of what accessories they get. The Belleville is what it is. And what it is, with all that stuff on it and a steel frame, is heavy. Not insanely heavy, but it's sure no Madone!

While the go fast crowd won't have any interest in the Belleville, I also know that the retro & utility bike purists will find nits to pick about this bike. Some will bemoan the lack of a lugged frame, some will wish for a different rake on the front fork, some will complain that the 3-speed hub has too few gears. My main complaints with the bike involve the lack of adjust-ability in the handlebars, the kind-of-weird-looking recycling-friendly seat and the unusual curve of the top-tube on the men's model. But no one bike is perfect for everyone and I think it's wonderful that Trek makes a bike like the Belleville.

With an MSRP of $659.99, I think the Belleville is a very good value for somebody looking for a complete city bike. Here are links to a couple of real reviews of the bike:

Car Free Philly: Original Review & Update

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

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